What’s Changing with Georgia Lien Waivers?
You may have heard there are changes coming to Georgia lien waivers. Late this summer, the governor of Georgia signed Senate Bill 315, which goes into effect January 1, 2021. In today’s post I’ll highlight the key changes.
What Was in Senate Bill 315?
Up first: clarity. The new legislation clarifies that executing a lien waiver only waives the claimant’s right to file a mechanic’s lien or bond claim – it does not waive the claimant’s right to file suit for non-payment.
44-14-366 (a) Waivers and releases provided under this Code section shall be limited to waivers and releases of lien and labor or material bond rights and shall not be deemed to affect any other rights or remedies of the claimant.
Under the new statute, specific formatting is still required, however the formatting guidelines will ease a bit. Currently, lien waivers must be boldface capital letters and at least 12-point font. In 2021, lien waivers will still need to be at least 12-point font, but you will no longer need to ensure the text is bold & in all caps.
In this text copied from the bill, you will see the sections struck & added (underlined) to the lien waiver:
NOTICE: WHEN YOU EXECUTE AND SUBMIT THIS DOCUMENT, YOU SHALL BE CONCLUSIVELY DEEMED TO HAVE BEEN PAID IN FULL THE AMOUNT STATED WAIVED AND RELEASED ANY AND ALL LIENS AND CLAIMS OF LIENS UPON THE FOREGOING DESCRIBED PROPERTY AND ANY RIGHTS REGARDING ANY LABOR OR MATERIAL BOND REGARDING THE SAID PROPERTY TO THE EXTENT (AND ONLY TO THE EXTENT) SET FORTH ABOVE, EVEN IF YOU HAVE NOT ACTUALLY RECEIVED SUCH PAYMENT, 60 90 DAYS AFTER THE DATE STATED ABOVE UNLESS YOU FILE EITHER AN AFFIDAVIT OF NONPAYMENT OR A CLAIM OF LIEN PRIOR TO THE EXPIRATION OF SUCH 60 90 DAY PERIOD. THE FAILURE TO INCLUDE THIS NOTICE LANGUAGE ON THE FACE OF THE FORM SHALL RENDER THE FORM UNENFORCEABLE AND INVALID AS A WAIVER AND RELEASE UNDER O.C.G.A. § 44-14-366.
Notably, you will also see the time requirement for the Affidavit of Non-Payment change from 60 days to 90 days.
Which leads me to: Affidavit of Non-Payment. Under current statute, if the waiver is signed and payment is not received, an Affidavit of Non-Payment or the Mechanic’s Lien must be filed by the 60th day from the date of each waiver. Under the new statute, the deadline is extended from 60 days to 90 days, and the only way to revoke the lien waiver is to serve the Affidavit of Non-Payment – filing a mechanic’s lien will no longer revoke the lien waiver.
Can I Start Using the New Forms Now?
You should continue to use the lien waiver forms currently prescribed by O.C.G.A. § 44-14-366(c) and (d), and you should serve your Affidavit of Non-Payment within the 60 days. You can start 2021 with a Happy New Year, a new lien waiver, and 30 extra days to serve the Affidavit of Non-Payment.